Before the Reformation education was extremely minimal. Only those that were intending on pursuing a career in the clergy were granted any education and what was taught was minimal at best. Laymen were typically granted no education at all. There were trade schools which were only for the vocational education of the children of guild members and even these were overseen by the church. A handful of universities dotted the landscape but the quality of education was poor. The Reformation, driven by the ideals of Protestants, dramatically changed how the world would educate their children for hundreds of years.
The Reformation was driven by Protestant ideals. While the education that they promoted was still Christian based it was no longer overseen by the church. In fact, one of the main principles of the education they prescribed is that it was Bible-based and covenantal yet included liberal arts subjects. Education also became standard for all children, not just the clergy, vocational or high born. Protestant ideas of education included a well-rounded, graded syllabus that was partially parentally controlled.
The Protestant ideals for the educational system came from the Reformation doctrine of Scripture. There was an expectation of every Christian to read, known, memorize, learn, understand and apply the Word of God in their lives. Without the ability to read and reason members of the Church would not be able to complete the doctrine. An education which enabled all children to not only read and write but learn and understand as well was needed. The concept of reasoning was important beyond standard memorization.
- Hanko, R. “Christian Education, Reformation Heritage” PDF file.